Uk’S Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:04 pm on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 3:04 pm, 13th March 2019

Obviously there is a diversity of views in this House, but I agree with my hon. Friend that it is in the interests of British farming, and indeed our broader environment, that we do not leave on 29 March without a deal. This is one of the reasons why I am making these arguments at the Dispatch Box now.

There are also political challenges in leaving on 29 March without a deal. As my hon. Friend Alberto Costa pointed out, during the referendum campaign we argued that we should leave with a deal. I am also conscious that, while our mandate was clear, it is also the case that with a 52:48 result, we need to take into account the hopes and concerns of those people who did not vote to leave the European Union. The Prime Minister’s deal does that; it does more than that. Many people who voted to remain—including Members of this House in my party and in others—have accepted the result and wish us to leave in order to honour that mandate. However, they do not want us to leave on 29 March without a deal. There would inevitably be political strains and pressures consequent on leaving without a deal on 29 March that no Minister can afford to ignore.

More than that, it is important to stress that there are also significant constitutional challenges. It is the case, as several hon. Members have pointed out, that a majority of voters in Scotland and in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, but we voted as one United Kingdom, and we voted to leave. It is striking that support for the Union in Scotland has risen since the vote—[Hon. Members: “It’s gone down!”] Well, we only need look at the ranks of Scottish Conservative MPs, who turfed out the partitionist part-timers of the SNP, to see which way the tide was flowing—[Interruption.] They don’t like it up ’em.